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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

A Glimpse of the Gardens

Tucson Botanical Gardens features a stunning new exhibit

After being closed for several months earlier this year, the Tucson Botanical Gardens is back with a stunning new exhibition, and a slew of new safety precautions to ensure that all visitors can enjoy the beauty of the gardens, and feel comfortable at the same time.

La Calavera Catrina—which debuted in mid-September—will be hosted outside of Denver for the first time, and will be
on display through the end of November in Tucson. This exhibition was organized by the Denver Botanic Garden and features the work of Ricardo Soltero.

Soltero’s creations are regarded as some of the most recognizable figures through the Día de Los Muertos celebration. La Catrina was born out of Mexican social satire depicting the upper classes and is still depicted in art today in celebration of the holiday.

Soltero created 8- to 9-foot-tall figures that represent nine figures from Mexican culture, with a goal of specifically highlighting La Catrina de Diego Rivera, La Friducha, La Catrina garbancera de José Guadalupe Posada, and La Catrina vestida de mariposas, along with many more.

For Michelle Conklin, the executive director of the Tucson Botanical Gardens, the exhibition showcases more than just a reopening collection for the organization—it’s an example of the innovation and brilliance of her team, who have managed to pivot their initial agenda for the year, and craft something even better.

“I work with a group of very creative people who are excited and in love with the job that they do with the Garden. So, they pulled together. I think things like pandemics and disasters bring out the best in people, and it certainly brought out the best in my staff,” says Conklin. “We have had to close all of our indoor galleries, and our butterfly house through the end of the year. I did have to cancel shows that were scheduled for indoor spaces. But again, a creative team pulls together, and we think we’ve got a few great surprises that will make this year even better than we could have thought.”

The team at Tucson Botanical Gardens has worked tirelessly since their reopening in July to ensure that guests could indulge in the full scope of fun provided by the Gardens, in a COVID-friendly atmosphere, of course.

“We built a new, small admission building to re-route our visitors, allowing us to have a one way in and one way out— that way the Gardens would be accessible to all who come. We’ve had to install the handwashing stations and sanitizing stations in it. It’s just been a lot of preparation.”

The visitor capacity has been limited to ensure the well- being of everyone at the Gardens, and guests are required to wear masks.

Tucson Botanical Gardens is open daily from 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., with special evening exhibit hours 6– 9 p.m. Purchase tickets ahead of time online at www.tucsonbotanical.org.

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